Robert Owen, Welshman born 1771 and considered father of cooperativismHe firmly believed that the future of a man in life would have much to do with the circumstances that he had to live. He was a strong advocate that the environment was important and precisely That is why he devised his community villages such as Colonia Santa Eulalia, where a community would settle in a newly created city that would be in charge of cultivating and manufacturing.
These new cities of course depended on the creative will of a landowner or industrialist, but Owen He was betting that, inspired by a new moral order based on reason and also on human brotherhood, they would be willing to carry these companies forward, improving the quality of life of their employees.
Owenian colonies appeared in Great Britain, the United States, France, Algeria, Brazil, or Mexico. And also in Spain. Understanding that the context must undoubtedly modulate the character of these colonies as they arose in one country or another, we would like to focus on one of them, trying to analyze its evolution from the social and political context with which it had to deal.
Colonia Santa Eulalia
At interior of Alicante, between the municipalities of Sax and Villena the Colonia Santa Eulalia. The project was undoubtedly a mixture of the influence of utopian socialism with the timely enactment of a law of 1868 that favored the creation of this type of agricultural land management companies.
It must be understood that it was about promoting the creation of livelihoods for the rural people who were emigrating to the cities, depopulating the populations with less future. However, the picaresque flourished in these cases and it is known that many of these projects were sanctioned for not meeting the requirements to obtain the tax benefits that the law proposed.
In any case, the Colonia Santa Eulalia managed, for several decades, to move forward not only the farmlands, but also a flour factory and an alcohol factory. The physiognomy of the miniature city included everything necessary for a community to be self-sufficient not only with regard to basic needs, but also included elements that were coherent with social life such as a casino, a hostel and even a small theater where companies renowned zarzuela shows.
If all this was for the enjoyment of the inhabitants or for the owners of all that, it is something that the ruins that remain of this miniature city cannot tell us, but the truth is that Antonio de Padúa, count of Alcudia and Gestalgar and María Avial, Viscountess of Alcira, associated with Mariano Roncali, managed that the colony even had its own train station and enjoyed many years of economic flourishing until its decline in the 1920s, where the abandonment of the farmlands and the subsequent Civil War put an end to it.
Behind this project, undoubtedly utopian and which was born from the hand of Owen as a response to the class struggle, thinking more about the hands stretched out between them, there are undoubtedly hidden stories that show that things did not change so much. The colony became the fashionable place of social exchange among the upper classes and its initial casinete had as a rival an authentic casino located in the palace.
With splendid wine cellars and gaming tables, the colony was a kind of redoubt of revelries of wealthy people. Not in vain the Count himself died in the colony after a night of excesses and jealousy in the casino, giving rise to part of the local paranormal legend.
Undoubtedly, waiting for Owen's predictions to be carried out without nuances was complicated, but of course the experiment had its moment of splendor and who knows if in the context of a Europe at peace they could not have lasted in time.
In any case, from an urban point of view they are still very interesting creations, since they allow creation from scratch, ignoring the history that cities carry and that often forces the planner to patch, without the opportunity to have before them a blank sheet on which to project a space for human life.